Saturday, March 28, 2009

* 'It's Clever but is it Art?'

The High/Perpetual Xmas,
No Abstractions 2008
Brick,stone,steel,aluminium,2-pack paint,acrylic,neon glass tube,fluorescent glass tube
Scott Redford QLD b.1962
GOMA (Gallery of Modern Art) Brisbane, Queensland

Scott Redford's sculpture takes us on a journey to the mid 20th century world of Queensland's resort city of the Gold Coast while paying homage to a 'neon mercury vapour-stained Miami sky'* style of 'Googie' architecture along the way . Googie style could easily be dismissed as a kitsch branch of Modernism but in reality it contributed to the landscape alongside more distinguished work such as that produced by architect and landscape designer Karl Langer. (1903-1969)(Lennon's Broadbeach Hotel 1956) Much of Googie, both here and in America, has been demolished to make way for high-rise and yet we are left with evocative names such as the El Rancho Barbeque, Rio Vista, El Dorado Motel, Florida Gardens, Miami Keys etc. Langer was also instrumental in the development of the canal estates ,a new style of living attracting such celebrities as 'Our Glad', Gladys Moncrief (1892-1976) 'Queen of Song' who graciously waved to passing tourists while her glorious soprano voice was reproduced in a less than glamorous manner. The major influence on lifestyle at this time came via 'the magazine for western living' the Californian based Sunset Magazine especially the Patio edition which had as its design advisor the brilliant landscape architect Thomas Church.(1902-1978). 'The Sunset Look' was achieved by creating a close relationship between indoors and outdoors....evolving into the outdoor room we know today with everything including the kitchen sink within reach for rinsing your hands after artfully arranging the prawns!

A Thomas Church designed roof garden using cactus and succulents.

The Gold Coast was the perfect location to reflect the Californian Modernist ideal of Sunset Magazine of 'blue pools in the squinting sun and the hissing of summer lawns'* but it would be many years before the landscape profession was able to catch up with the likes of Thomas Church.
Reynold's sculpture, like so much of our public artworks, fails to sit comfortably in its given location but it is so generous in its scale and concept as to allow free reign to the imagination as to where it could find a home..Perhaps on loan to the New South Wales town of Parkes during the Elvis Festival in January, at a muscle car show ,or in a garden setting of bold and quirky plants? Overall it is a celebration of our 'cultural cringe' and our ability to laugh at ourselves. It would not be out of place on the set of Muriel's Wedding in the town of Porpoise Spit or gracing the entrance to Fountain Lakes, home to Kath and Kim.

*Title It's Clever...from The Pursuit of Paradise (A social history of gardens and gardening) by Jane Brown (1999 HarperCollins Publishers)
* 'neon mercury......Joni Mitchell from Otis and Marlena
*' blue pools in the .. Joni Mitchell from The Hissing of Summer Lawns(Nonesuch Records,Warner Music Group)

Some plants for an imaginary garden surrounding this artworkAgave americana 'Variegata'
Multi -coloured grafted Cacti
Bismarckia nobilis , Bismarck Palm
Bright flowering Marigolds and Vinca

A blue foliaged Agave species

Pandanus veitchii
And some favourite cars......

'58 Buick

'67 Ford Galaxie Convertable

'62 Ford Thunderbird Hardtop

'59 Ford Thunderbird Convertable

Ford Galaxie 500 on the street at Nelson Bay

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